By JOHN HOWELL
Mayor Frank Picozzi is a member of the 21 percent club, which is not something to celebrate since he’ll be paying at least $500 more in taxes, but, on the other hand, is …
Mayor Frank Picozzi is a member of the 21 percent club, which is not something to celebrate since he’ll be paying at least $500 more in taxes, but, on the other hand, is better off than those paying an additional $1,000 or more.
While he had yet to receive notice of the revaluation appraisal of his Gristmill home featured in his digital Christmas lights display, Picozzi went on line over the weekend to learn his home had appreciated $89,000 since the last revaluation Dec. 31, 2018. He wasn’t surprised. Single-family home prices have ballooned ever since the Covid shutdown and they continue to push upwards despite escalating interest rates and the pressures of inflation on home budgets. Demand for single family homes is strong and inventories are down, he said Tuesday.
Citywide, Picozzi said, the revaluation reflects a 31 percent increase in residential properties and an 11 percent increase in commercial properties.
The revaluation, as City Assessor Neal Dupuis explained, does not compute values on the basis of a percentage increase from the prior revaluation, but is based on the market value as of Dec. 31, 2022.
So, how does this put the mayor in the 21 percent club? The answer is the mayor’s own $353.2 million city budget that the City Council will commence hearing in the first of two and possibly three hearings beginning Monday. First on the agenda is the $185.9 million school budget that is about $1 million short of what the School Committee asked for. However, the mayor proposes giving schools an additional $1 million from ARPA federal funds to be used for capital one-time expenditures. ARPA funds and a drawdown from city reserves that as of the June 30, 2022 audit was $31 million, totaling more than $7 million are proposed to balance the budget. The tax levy is projected to generate $226.4 million, an increase of 2.93 percent from the current year.
The mayor said the finance and assessors offices provided him with a breakdown of how much more taxpayers can expect to pay as a result of adjusted property valuations coupled with a projected residential tax rate of $14.76 per $1,000 of valuation, which is down from the current rate of $18.73. The proposed commercial rate is $25.83, which is also down from the current, but it will be 175 percent of the residential rate. Currently it is 150 percent of the residential rate.
Picozzi said 79 percent of residential property owners would be paying less than an additional $500 in taxes and 21 percent would pay at least $500 more. Of that 21 percent, 4 percent would pay $1,000 or more based on the proposed budget.
Council President Steve McAllister, whose Greenwood home increased $80,400 in valuation isn’t surprised. He said the demand for a Greenwood home is high, citing the sale of a longtime neighbor’s house to an out of state buyer before there was even an open house.
Picozzi said he checked on the property valuations of the full council and all of them would be paying more in taxes should they approve the budget.
“It’s a good budget,” McAllister said. “I don’t expect (it to change) too much.”
With completion of two classes of firefighters, McAllister said he is watching to see if the department can get a grip on overtime that has consistently been over budget year after year.
“I would like to see it go down,” he said.
As for valuations, property owners will have the opportunity to contest the appraised value, however, unlike prior years when taxpayers scheduled appointments to meet with appraisers a new self serve system is to be implemented.
In response to an inquiry, Dupuis forwarded the following information on the review process:
“Assessments, by law, are based on the market value of each property within the municipality. If you do not feel that you could sell your property for the amount indicated above, you may schedule a meeting to discuss your proposed assessment. These meetings will be conducted over the phone, through the mail or via e-mail. This will be your opportunity to present any evidence regarding the market value of your property that you want considered. Appointments may be scheduled on-line by going to www.vgsi.com/schedules.” Additionally, the notice reads, “If you have more than two parcels that you wish to discuss or you would like to schedule by phone, please call Vision Government Solutions at (888) 844-4300 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, excluding public holidays.”
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